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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios
Headlines Tuesday painted a picture of a booming U.S. retail market: Amazon's well-covered Prime Day(s) generated an estimated $5.8 billion of sales and the Commerce Department's retail sales report showed an especially strong reading for June.
But a deeper dive into the data shows retail sales growth is slowing, with the all-important online component — the major source of growth, as brick-and-mortar sales struggle — cooling notably.
The big picture: More U.S. companies are doing business online than ever before, but online retail sales growth has been decelerating for 4 consecutive quarters, data from FTI Consulting's 2019 U.S. Online Retail Forecast shows.
What's happening: Online sales are taking a larger portion of overall retail, and slowing growth in that segment is reflecting slowing growth overall.
Details: Online sales growth has slowed to an average of 13.3% in the most recent 4 quarters from 16.1% a year earlier. It has weakened further to the low-12% range in the 2 most recent quarters. FTI projects the growth rate will fall to 5.9% in 10 years.
While FTI's analysts believe Prime Day's big numbers are more smoke and mirrors than substance ("The ability of Prime Day to have a material impact on consumer discretionary spend is unlikely," Yozzo tells Axios), they do expect Amazon to continue to expand its take.
The total net worth of the bottom 50% of Americans fell to -$143 billion in the second quarter of 2010 — meaning the lowest 50% of earners had collective liabilities far outpaced their collective assets, largely underwater home and auto loans. Their net worth remained negative until Q1 2013, Federal Reserve data shows.
What it means: "The recovery is just now getting to the bottom of the economy," Kevin Barry, chief investment officer at investment manager CAPTRUST, tells Axios. "At the end of 2015 the overwhelming majority of Americans would say, 'What recovery?'"
Credit investors in Bank of America-Merrill Lynch's most recent survey say they are growing more worried about a recession. Top concerns among investors surveyed included "Recession/deflation," "Asset bubbles" and "Currency war."
Axios' Courtenay Brown writes: In one of his final speeches before a major policy meeting this month, Fed chairman Jerome Powell stressed the importance of communicating frankly with the public.
"Gone are the days when the Federal Reserve Chair could joke, as my predecessor Alan Greenspan did, 'If I turn out to be particularly clear, you've probably misunderstood what I said.' Central banks must speak to Main Street, as well as Wall Street, in ways we have not in the past, and Main Street is listening and engaged."— Powell's speech Tuesday at G7 Bretton Woods in Paris
Why it matters: The financial markets may have backed Powell into a corner to cut interest rates, but these days Main Street has his ear, too.
Former Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo was arrested in the U.S. Tuesday, on an extradition warrant stemming from corruption charges in his home country. Prosecutors are requesting 16 years of prison for Toledo and his wife.
Why it matters: Toledo was the last living ex-president of Peru not to have been arrested in connection with corruption charges for taking bribes from Brazilian construction company Odebrecht.
The state of play: Despite the political chaos, Peru's stock market delivered world-beating returns from the start of 2016 to the end of 2017. An ETF tracking MSCI's Peruvian index (EPU) gained 114% during that time, far outpacing the S&P 500's 43% rise and almost doubling MSCI's broader gauge of emerging market equities, which rose 66%, according to data from Yahoo Finance.